Tuesday, April 27, 2021

It's An Optimistic Morning

      Or at least a cautiously optimistic morning.  We may have storms tomorrow and the next day, but today should be the first day for temperatures that pass 80 degrees.

      It looks like the CDC's recommendation for wearing masks outdoors will be modified, too.  Just how much and if the guidelines are any different for vaccinated and unvaccinated people is unknown.  Indiana's rule became a recommendation earlier this month -- and applied outside only if you couldn't stay six feet away from strangers.  Outdoors interaction has been recognized as lower risk since early in the pandemic, so this move is no surprise.  It may even seems a little late in coming -- but Americans are a cross-grained lot, and many people have balked at mask rules.  About the only way a free society has to address that is to encourage the people inclined to caution to be even more so, and thus the rules and recommendations have tended to linger.  If J. Random Guy is going to go shop for mangoes unmasked, state and city governments are going to hang onto the rules that ensure the rest of us wear a mask at the supermarket and minimize the odds of swapping bugs with him.

      Emotions have run high and partisan politics have gotten deeply entangled, but the various state and city public health officials are, in fact, not budding Mussolinis and Stalins; most of them are swamped enough by the more routine aspects of the office and were just about bowled over by the pandemic.  That's been true all along, even in offices with more power: there was no prize in this for Governors and Mayors other than fewer dead and hospitalized citizens (bad for tourism and the economy, y'know) and a significant risk of voter ill-will.  Indiana's Governor Holcomb came in for his own share of opprobrium, no small proportion of it from GOP voters who I would have expected to know better.  But there it is: Americans tend to rankle at being told what to do.  The human race has a tendency to dance on the rim of volcanoes; Americans have a habit of making it work out when we do.

      It's starting to look like we may have muddled through.  The next step may be even harder to sell: we -- and our allies -- need to vaccinate the world.  Yeah, yeah, we don't owe anything to some bunch of foreigners, but here's the deal: the longer a new virus circulates among a great many people, the more mutations show up.  Some of 'em are bound to be worse.  We need to stomp this bug flatter than polio* or smallpox.  We need to kill it dead -- because if we don't, it will come right back, even uglier.  Viruses don't recognize borders.  I don't know about you, but I would just as soon never have to repeat the past twelve months.

      So I'm cautiously optimistic.
* Polio is still a major problem in some parts of the world. It'd be pretty cheap to vaccinate for that, too -- except some of the worst hit places are also war zones.

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